“Intolerance on a new high”, shouted the newspaper headlines. She laughed at it. Intolerance, she wondered! Do they even know what it means?
The political scenarios were new, but this word intolerance always amused her. This eleven lettered word, which was being promoted by the United’s opposition, as the herald of India’s new government, always amused her with its sarcasm. A government can’t make a nation intolerant. India can never become intolerant. India had never been tolerant!
They never tolerated her. It all began even before she was born. Her mother’s womb was always blessed with doodho nahao, pooto falo. She was never desired, and when she took her first breath, her long battle with this intolerance had begun.
She ran around the house wailing and crying after those brutal ear piercings as her gender unbiased parents tried to calm her down. She grew up, being carefully cast into a lady-like mould. Again and again, she was scrutinised, reminded how girls were supposed to behave, talk, walk, think, blink, breathe and above all, how her brother would act as her protector. How she direly needed the protection of the men of her family. Her expressions and freedom were never tolerated.
It never ended. Be it the length of her clothes, or the timings of her evening ventures, she was never tolerated. She grew up with all the intolerance around her. Knowing and sensing it every other moment of her life, and today, the overzealous use of this “intolerance” disturbed her deeply.
She had always been gentle, she had been all-forgiving. She had looked away everytime her father talked of her as a liability, everytime he called her as someone else’s Amanat. She chose to not argue when her mother told her to not enter the temple as she wasn’t pious. She had ignored those hounding looks at the roads and laughed off those light sexual banters at the office. Even joined in on those sexist jokes her husband cracked in front of his friends, just to not shatter his mirror-weak male ego.
She had, over the years, tolerated our intolerance. “Intolerance! “She laughed, “I wish they knew what it means.”
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